Defending Employment Tribunal Claims

If an Employment Tribunal claim is made against an employer there can be far-reaching consequences for an employer from Employment Tribunal findings.  These range from financial awards and costs to adverse publicity and reputational damage and can be a red flag to any other disgruntled employees thinking of claiming.

We provide expert Employment Tribunal advice, guidance and representation but, if instructed early, we can help with general Employment advice on HR policies and procedures to minimise risk and exposure to Employment Tribunal claims. We also provide settlement advice, such as ACAS Early Conciliation or workplace Mediation, and the preparation of Settlement Agreements. These can often save your business thousands of pounds in legal costs and bring the matter to a swift conclusion.

We prepare for Employment Tribunal proceedings by listening first, looking at HR paperwork and record keeping, assessing the evidence available to support the claim and the defence and reviewing the latest developments in Employment Law.

When those steps are completed, we can objectively review the claim and defence and advise on settlement strategies as it is never too late to try to reach a settlement. Whilst you may consider the Tribunal proceedings should go ahead, as you know you are in the right, or because there is a principle at stake, we can help you weigh up the risk of a Tribunal finding against you and the consequences of that for your workforce or business reputation.

We advise and represent employers in all levels of Employment Tribunal proceedings on such matters as:
  • Interim Relief Applications.
  • Breach of Contract/Wrongful Dismissal.
  • Constructive Dismissal and Unfair Dismissal.
  • Automatically Unfair Dismissal.
  • Direct and Indirect Discrimination claims of all types.
  • Victimisation and Harassment.
  • Unlawful Deductions from Wages.
  • Equal pay.
  • Holiday Pay.
  • Notice Pay.
  • Redundancy claims and Redundancy pay.
  • Whistleblowing.
  • TUPE.
  • Health & Safety dismissals.
  • Trade Union related dismissals.

We always recommend that your business should seek advice at an early stage, as many disputes can be resolved before an Employment Tribunal hearing through use of conciliation, negotiation, ACAS and other mediation and arbitration options.

The Employment Tribunal Process

If your business receives an Employment Tribunal claim, you will have 28 days to file a Response. It is, therefore, vital to take legal advice as soon as you receive the ET1 and before responding as your Response will form part of your business’s defence to the claim. It is unlikely that you will be able to correct a bad Response later. If you are unable to submit your business’s Response within the deadline of 28 days, you may be able to apply for an extension from the Employment Tribunal. An extension cannot be guaranteed so it is best to take early legal advice as soon as you receive the claim. There is every possibility due to the backlogs in the Employment Tribunal system that your application to extend time will not be dealt with until after the original time limit has passed. So, it is not recommended to risk this.

The Employment Tribunal rules provide for evidence to be filed by both employer, employee and witnesses. When the Claimant’s (employee’s) evidence is available, we will discuss it with you and assess the strengths and weaknesses of the Claimant’s case. You can then make an informed decision on whether to try again to reach a settlement. We can help assess the evidence needed for your business’s defence and to prepare witness statements that address the issues the Employment Tribunal has to determine.

An Employment Tribunal claim could take up to 18-24 months from the date of claim to the date of the Final Hearing, sometimes longer depending on the claim. An employee must normally make an Employment Tribunal claim within 3 months of the date their employment ended, or within 3 months of the date upon which the incident they rely on occurred. Employment Tribunal rules allow for some late claims to be made but only in very narrow and specific circumstances.  Time limits are extended in differing ways by periods of ACAS Early Conciliation.

With substantial experience of successfully defending Employment Tribunal claims, we pride ourself on our excellent client standards, attention to detail and pragmatic legal advice looking at the cost benefit analysis of raising an Employment Tribunal defence or settling an Employment Tribunal claim.

For more information on defending Employment Tribunal claims or to discuss your business defending an actual or a proposed Employment Tribunal claim, please contact us.